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Paton's patience pays as Broncos get two preferred players in Bonitto and Dulcich

Hackett on Bonitto: "This game’s about the quarterback. And we’ve got some good ones in this division. We need somebody who can get after them.”

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — There was discussion inside the Broncos' war room Friday night about trading up from their No. 64 draft pick.

But general manager George Paton couldn’t get a consensus from the room on which player to trade up and get. As the draft was getting about 10-12 picks away from No. 64, there was still a circle of about five players the Broncos really liked. It’s just some scouts and coaches liked one player a little better than that player.

And so Paton held tight. Two players who were part of that tight love circle were Oklahoma edge rusher Nik Bonitto and UCLA tight end Greg Dulcich. They were both up for discussion at No. 64.

“They certainly were,’’ Paton said in an exclusive interview with 9News shortly after Day 2 of the NFL Draft was finished. “We had second-round grades on both. And we thought we’d maybe get one of them.’’

The Broncos got both – Bonitto at No. 64 and Dulcich was still there when the Broncos picked No. 80 in the third round.

“We were able to get two really good players,’’ Paton said. “And they’re both going to help our football team quickly, I think.’’

RELATED: Broncos first pick, No. 64 overall, is Oklahoma edge rusher Nik Bonitto

Head coach Nathaniel Hackett was noticeably happy about the day’s work.

“Very. You want to affect the quarterback as much as you can,’’ Hackett told 9News. “So we got a pass rusher which is great. And somebody the quarterback can throw the ball to which is always awesome.”

In Bonitto, the Broncos now have five pass rushers as he’ll join Bradley Chubb, Randy Gregory, Malik Reed, Jonathon Cooper and Baron Browning.

“He’s a dynamic rusher,’’ Paton said of Bonitto. “He needs to get stronger. But he’s going to help our pass rush.”

Bonitto had a top 30 prospect visit to Broncos’ headquarters last week. He obviously didn’t flunk the interview.

“He didn’t. He did a fine job,’’ Hackett said. “He’s a guy that consistently affects the quarterback. You put his tape on and whether he’s getting a sack or he’s around the quarterback that’s something you’re always looking for. This game’s about the quarterback. And we’ve got some good ones in this division here. We need somebody who can get after them.”

Dulcich’s skill set is similar to Noah Fant, the Broncos’ starting tight end the previous three years but was traded to Seattle in a swap that brought star quarterback Russell Wilson to Denver. Fant had good speed and was a better receiver than blocker. The Broncos believe Dulcich can develop into a strong two-way tight end.

RELATED: Chad Muma selected No. 70 overall by Jaguars in NFL Draft

“He gives you a lot of different things,’’ Hackett said. “He strains in the run game and he can stretch the field all day long. We had a couple guys like that in Green Bay with Bobby Tonyan when he was running down the field so that’s going to be great when you’ve got a lot of tight ends like we do you can put them all out on the field.”

Dulcich will work with Albert Okwuegbunam as the Broncos’ primary tight ends with veteran Eric Tomlinson getting 20 to 25 percent of the snaps to block.

“Let the coaches determine that but he can run and catch,’’ Paton said of Dulcich. “He can stretch the field. He’s going to help us in the pass game and the run game. But we like him, we’ll let the coaches figure out how that works out. They’re going to compete. We want competitors. We want them all to compete.”

Paton wound up trading back twice – from No. 75 to 80, where he took Dulcich – and No. 96 to Indianapolis in exchange for an extra third-round pick next year and a fifth-round pick Saturday. But in the end, trading up from No. 64 was proven to be unnecessary.  

“We got a little itchy there but there were about four or five players that we liked in both of those rounds,’’ Paton said. “So we just waited, we were patient.”

And they got two of those players from their inner love circle.


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